Tag Archives: nerves

To Schmooze or Not To Schmooze…

… That is the question!schmooze

According to Urban Dictionary the definition of “Schmooze” is: Making ingratiating small talk – talk that is business oriented, designed to both provide and solicit personal information but avoids overt pitching. Most often an artifact of “networking.” It is more art than science but can be learned.

But, blimey Charlie is schmoozing difficult!

I admit I can’t do it.

I can’t do small talk. I can’t talk to someone with an underlying intent of getting something out of it.

I never have been able to.

When I left drama school we had the usual showcase performance with casting directors and agents attending with the ‘networking’ after – but false situations like that fill me with dread and after 5 minutes I had to leave.

I simply don’t have the courage to just walk up to someone and start a random conversation in order to find out who they are and what I can get out of them – be it a job, a sale, etc.

How do you do it?

How can you learn it?

As a business owner I’ve attended business networking events – and the same thing. I can’t talk about myself. I’m happy to listen to other people, but opening up and making the right kind of schmoozy noises, I find excruciatingly painful.

Even if I try to put on a different persona and ‘act’ the part I still fail, because deep down I’m just too nervous, believe that people can see right through me and never know quite what to say – there’s a reason I always hated improve classes at drama school!  (I’m one of those people who can never quite get the right words out, and then 5 minutes later think “damn, I should have said that!”)

Thankfully, these days I don’t need to go to networking events – the business area I’m in doesn’t hang out at the normal business events. But I have to do the dreaded cold calling! Which I find slightly easier, because it’s on the phone and I have a script. Then if I get to meet a prospective client it’s because I’ve already spoken to them and they want to hear more – so it’s not a cold, having to make small talk situation.

That’s probably why I’m so rubbish when it comes to dating. I’ve always been able to talk to boys/men, but when it comes to one I actually like and they ask me out for coffee I’m actually petrified of saying or doing the wrong thing that when I try to be myself I always end up looking a complete wally.

If anyone has any tips on how to schmooze effectively, please let me know – I think I need all the help I can get 😉

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The Theatre, The Theatre…

…there’s nothing like the theatre!theatre masks

I love it!

Watching it, doing it, breathing it, sleeping it.

It’s what I do.

I’ve been involved with performing arts for as long as I can remember (and probably a good few years before that too).

My mum took me to ballet classes when I was 2½. Not because she wanted me to be the next Margot Fonteyn, but more that I had far too much energy and she thought it might burn some of it off.

But I loved it.

By the time I was 4, I was doing drama too.

My childhood was spent, literally, doing dancing competitions and dance and drama exams.

I did it because I loved it, not because I was pushed to do it like so many of my friends were. My mum always said if I didn’t like it, I didn’t have to do it. My dancing friends’ mum’s made them do it, mostly because they wanted to see their daughters succeed where they had failed.

I knew I would never be a dancer – too tall for ballet, and entirely the wrong shape – but that didn’t matter, I didn’t want to go to dancing school I was far too academic and liked studying. I just loved to dance, still do in fact. I still try to do some ballet exercise, but these days I tend to do ballroom and latin 😉

Drama, on the other hand, was a completely different kettle of fish.

Oh I loved it, and more than anything I wanted to act for a living. I did go to drama school and got a scholarship, but it was not to be – I still dream that one day Adrian Noble will spy me in a local production and ask me to be in his next production at the National. I know this will never happen, but it’s nice to dream 😉

When I was 15, I branched out and joined the local operatic society. I got to sing, dance and act, all at once in a musical (which were, and still are my most favourite of films to watch). In my twenties I joined the local acting company too.

What a thrill. I could do what I loved, do shows I’d otherwise only ever dream of doing and still go out and earn a living. And more importantly, it was fun.

The one thing that has recently come to light was a conversation I had with a couple of people about am-dram. They were of the firm belief that the only people who did am-dram were those that wanted to show-off, people who want people to look at them.

In my opinion, this is not true of everyone. Oh, I will admit there are some people who do it because they want to show-off and want attention – and in my experience these are the type of people that you see on X-Factor who think they are great, but aren’t (you know the type).

First and foremost am-dram is a hobby. Yes, it takes up a lot of time and energy, but at the end of the day it is just a hobby like golf!

And the first rule of any hobby is enjoyment.

I am not saying that the people who just do it to show-off don’t enjoy it, but that should always be the crux of doing it.

I am not one of those who does it to show-off. I do it because I love it and it’s part of who I am. Even when I haven’t been in shows, I have always been able to find something to do with performing arts.

I am happy skulking around at the back of stage in the chorus, or in a lead role. And I don’t go for leads for the glory. I go for the challenge. the challenge of getting the part and then creating a believable character, getting under their skin, and living in their world for 2 hours – or however long the play is.

And Doctor Theatre is a marvellous tonic, because for those 2 hours, I can stop having to think about my life, and live in a world of imagination and make-believe.

And if I was one of those showy-offy people I wouldn’t get quite so nervous as I do – to the point of sickness. I understand nerves are normal, and I have mechanisms for coping, i.e., doing the same thing every night before a performance, from getting to the theatre at the same time, listening to the same songs in the car, doing the same things in the same order, etc.

But I do not like people staring at me. I hate it! It makes me want to curl up and hide away.

And that’s what a lot of people don’t get, or understand. They say “how come you can go on stage wearing this and doing that, but you don’t want to stand and make a speech?”

The answer is quite simple! If I was making a speech it would be me, when I’m on stage, it’s not me!”

But when it stops being enjoyable, I stop!

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